It’s the “murderous trans woman” trope again.
This year, I’m just gonna embrace the fact that TV is now so much better than most movies, and I’m gonna lead with that.
Here are my top five TV series of 2017:
Number five: Stranger Things 2. The kids are back on their bikes and the upside down is still dangerous. Eleven has evolved from “pretty” to “bitchin’” and Steve turns out to be a pretty good baby sitter. The show was still fun, immersive, and creepy. I liked that we got to see more of the world, I liked how Eleven has tapped in to the Phoenix force, and I liked the evolution of many of the characters. Just about the only thing I didn’t like was Eleven’s jealous shunning of Max. A solid, fun show.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Dirge without Music”
I have a mastodon.social account. I’m @firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve recently been trying to develop my skill with Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp). I’ve never really done much in the way of 3D modelling before, so a bunch of this is really new to me.
The first time I tried using SketchUp was a few years ago, as a tool to help with comic panel background design. I bounced off of it pretty quickly because it wasn’t terribly intuitive. But I was recently inspired to try again after seeing some really wonderful photo-realistic renders on DeviantArt.
I watched a handful of very helpful YouTube video tutorials which helped to understand a bunch of 101- and 102-level things that made my second attempt with the tool far more successful. (This video of a SketchUp conference session, in particular, had a ton of good 102-level tips.)
So I sat down and tried my hand at modelling some basic rooms and then modelling my condo floorplan and so forth. And then I decided to try my hand at modelling something based on a real-world object. Actually, I used a piece of set furniture from the Star Trek: Voyager series. Their mess hall tables were mostly rectangular shapes (so: relatively easy) but with some complicated bits as well (so: good practice). I found it hard to find a good reference picture of the base of the table, but ultimately discovered a great photo from an auction held after the show ended. The web page that had the picture also gave me some great guidance on the size of the table. 30″ x 30″ and 27″ tall.
So with those guides, I set out to recreate the table in SketchUp. I screwed up my first attempt. But I did a not-bad job on the second attempt.
So: observations. First, the photo makes the table appear far more yellow/brass coloured than it appears in the show. I tried to stick with the greys of the show.
Second, I was aware, when I made it, that the rounded corners weren’t quite right. The photo reference has a more oval-shaped corner; mine’s round. That was a limitation in my knowledge: I didn’t know how to get a good round corner that’s not circular.
Third observation: in the bevelled part of the table, my angle is 45°. I think the actual table is a bit closer to 30°. Also, there’s a very subtle vertical edge that I’ve missed.
The flaring bits on the base of the table are too wide in my version. I’ve made them an inch wide — a half inch is probably closer. Lastly, the base needs to be wider, and the lower portion of the base is too tall. Minor things that can easily be corrected.
All-in-all I’m pleased with the practice.
I think I first encountered this video at least a year ago. Maybe two. It’s one of a series that Smith Micro Graphics made to raise the profile of Manga Studio (now called Clip Studio Paint and Manga Studio Ex is now called Clip Studio Pro).
The presenter is an artist by the name of D.M. Cumbo, who has been working on an illustrated story called Dreamside. At about the time that Smith Micro released the video, D.M. Cumbo was also making a number of videos about different Manga Studio techniques, but he’s gone a bit quiet on that front lately.
Cumbo’s art really stands out to me because of the vibrancy of colour that he achieves. In a later video, he says that vibrancy is really all about contrast, and that picking colours that contrast well is the key to creating vibrant images. He also really pushes the idea of bounce-back lighting in a number of his videos: he says that things really look “in the environment” when you can see the colours of the environment reflecting back on a figure or object in that environment.
There are three techniques that Cumbo describes in this video that interest me:
I am sick of having to suffer so a man can grow. What is this, every Hollywood movie ever made? I am tired of having to confess to someone else’s crimes. I am tired of showing up at the banquet dripping blood like Banquo’s ghost. This should be your ghost, not mine. I am not the one who should be ashamed that you have done these things. I am not here to make you see the error of your ways. I am here to get through my life every day without inhaling thick lungfuls of smoke.
Because that’s what this is. This is like getting people who have gotten cancer from secondhand smoke to come testify together as a way of solving the problem. But you are the one who needs to stop.
— Alexandra Petri, “Men of the world: You are not the weather”, The Washington Post
One day in the late 80s, I was back at my parents’ house, between semesters at University. “I think you look like my father,” my mother said, rather matter-of-factly, and somewhat out of the blue. She went off to another room of the house and came back with a cardboard stationery box that I had never seen before. Inside the box, she produced a large head shot photo of her father, Walter Dynes, for comparison purposes.
I’m pretty sure that I was in my early twenties. Until that moment, I had never her say a word about her father. I don’t think that she ever mentioned him again.
At some point in my life, I’d come to understand that her father had died quite a long time ago, and that the person I considered to be my grandfather was, in fact, her step-father. Certainly, by the time of the great grade 7 family tree homework assignment, the details provided by my grandfather clearly spelled out the three maternal grandparents. But my bio-grandad’s figure seemed to cast no shadow over my family: he wasn’t talked about, no photos were out, and no stories about him were ever told. When I refer to him, I often call him my “biological grandfather” — a term that feels distant and removed. But it also feels apt because he seems distant and removed.
My father’s father, Vidal Holmes, was also dead. He died shortly before I turned two. But I was aware of his absence in a way that I was never aware of Walter’s absence.
This week, the Shuster Award nominations were announced, and for the third year in a row, the Toronto Comics anthology has been nominated for the Gene Day Award for self-published comics. We’ve lost out the last two years, and I don’t really expect this year to go any differently but, as they say, it’s an honour to be nominated.
Because of eligibility date requirements, the nomination was for Volume 3, which came out in 2016. But it’s 2017 now, and there’s a fourth volume. This year, the editors dispensed with the “Volume X” subtitle, and gave the book its own swanky subtitle: Yonge at Heart! This year’s book is a bit smaller (in a “number of pages” sense) than previous years, but what it lacks in pages it makes up for with vibrant colour! And, boy howdy, does that colour make for some gorgeous pages.